Living in modern cities is exhilarating. The pace of change, all the opportunities on offer and the bustle of being surrounded by people create an energy and buzz that fizzles out the further out of cities we move. In spite of all of their drawbacks and their problematic reputation, cities are our future. A rising global population and environmental concerns have seen scientists, who could agree on little else, find consensus on the point that densely populated cities offer a path to a more sustainable future. Suburban sprawl and the isolated luxury of rural living cannot offer 7.7 billion people a sustainable way to eat, live and thrive. Living together in close proximity, preserving space for what is wild to remain wild, and using less of everything by moving, living and producing more efficiently, will.
And for all of the problems they cause, cities ultimately bring us closer together. It is becoming increasingly clear that the best way of becoming more tolerant is to lean in. Cities force us to share our physical space, and ultimately our lives, with a wider diversity of people, both those we have lives in common with and those we do not.
Nevertheless, city life is also challenging and can be extremely draining. From cost to crowding, from pace to pollution the pressure and strain city living exudes on our physical and psychological wellbeing can be overwhelming. We are making good progress, but we still have far to go before we find ourselves living in beautiful, sustainable cities that truly help us to connect to our surroundings and one another and encourage us to thrive.
The growing number of us living in cities and the resulting communal pressure of city life are some of the reasons why so many of us feel a deep longing to reconnect with nature. Stepping out of the digital and virtual and into the real, tangible and natural offers one of the most revitalising elixirs to modern living.
No substitute exists for spending time outdoors. But for the rising number of us who find ourselves at least one floor above being able to step outside at any time of day, there is a longing to feel more of the natural world even when indoors.
For those who experience that longing, we have put together a few suggestions for how to create a natural home:
- Start from a base of earthy neutrals then layer more or less colour on top. A calming base of soft neutrals is the perfect starting point for a natural home. Some of us feel more contented living among subtle colours while others prefer a vibrant array. A natural home, whether monochrome or colourful has a base layer of muted, neutral colours that are soothing and naturally relaxing. For some of us, this is enough to feel perfectly contented, but others will want to layer brighter colours on top of this neutral base. Whatever your preference, a neutral colour scheme provides a calming base as your starting point for creating a natural home.
- In the absence of a room that opens up to a garden, plants and flowers are an effective alternative that helps to create a natural home. From flowers and grasses picked during a walk with the dog to an assortment of potted plants, what gives a home a natural feel is when plants and flowers are left wild, being allowed to grow as they naturally would. Rather than trimming potted plants into shape and rather than creating tight bouquets leaving both loose and wild will add a much more natural look and feel to a room than manicured perfection. Corners and spots with little light are perfect for dried flowers and foliage which not only do not need light but will last longer in shade as they tend to fade in sunlight. Not only do dried flowers brighten up a dark corner, but they are also reusable and cost-effective. Displaying seasonal branches in large vases is a simple and striking way to add drama and interest to a natural home.
- There is no more effective way to create a natural home than the use of natural materials. Wood, stone, and natural woven textiles like linen, jute and wool infuse a room with organic texture and a natural warmth unmatched by synthetics like plastic. Use them generously to create a warm, welcoming look that is not only calming to look at but also wonderful to the touch.
- Leave materials untreated or minimally treated where possible. Undyed fabrics such as unbleached wool and natural flax linen are less processed than their bleached or dyed counterparts and always have a soft, muted colour that gives a natural feel to an interior. Similarly, bare wood or wood that has been oiled or waxed rather than varnished is one of the most effective ways to make a room look and feel natural.
- Perfectly imperfect – nature is seldom perfectly uniform or even. Lived-in homes and objects full of imperfections help to create a much more natural feeling than perfectly put together spaces. From vintage and antique furniture that has acquired signs of use and wear, to handmade items such as imperfect ceramics, materials like brass and copper that develop a muted patina, to functional and decorative items collected one by one, slowly over time, natural homes are seldom perfectly put together all at once. Instead, they are allowed the time to emerge slowly and organically, growing and evolving alongside the people who live within them.
- Organic forms rather than straight lines and sharp edges – natural homes tend to be filled with organic shapes with soft edges. From a kitchen filled with handmade ceramics, each piece a little different from the other, to large comfy, slouchy sofas, homes feel more natural when they are filled with objects and furniture that are rounded, soft and slightly uneven rather than hard edges and perfect uniformity.
City living is on the rise, and if we want to ensure a sustainable future for a growing human population while allowing nature to remain and reclaim the space it requires to thrive, more and more of us will be living in cities. Proximity will bring us closer together but will also put increasing strain on our ability to find calm, peace and balance. Contact with nature can calm the senses and restore a feeling of calm. For all those moments when we can’t be outside, a natural home can be a wonderful alternative.
Images above show our Hand Dyed Velvet Jewel Cushion Covers in Walden, Hand Dyed Vintage Linen Cushion Covers in Linden, Organic Cotton Bento Bag Set, Heritage Brass Water Mister, Classic French Table Glasses, Maple Cutting Board small, Handmade Fluted Berry Bowl, Copenhagen Plant Pots in Pale Rosa and Soft Grey, Parade Plant Pots in Antique Rosa and Soft Grey, Kapok Safari Daybed Mattresses in Traditional Stripes and Breton Stripes, Handwoven Cotton Cushion Cover in Breton Stripes, Pearwood Dust Brush, Belgian Linen Throw Blanket in Raw Umber and Ecru, Belgian Linen Napkin in Ecru, Organic Cotton Hand Towel in Natural, Pallares Solsona Rounded Kitchen Knife in small, This is Home by Natalie Walton and A Frame for Life by Ilse Crawford, Stone Washed Flatware Set